Artwork has been designed by Zachary Curl.
CF: How and when was this mix recorded?
I made this mix a few days after I was asked to. I made it by recording digital and vinyl tracks into Logic.
CF: Can you tell us a bit about your background in music? When did you first gain an interest for it and how has that interest evolved?
I’ve had an interest in music ever since I was young, thanks to my grandparents and cousins. They played a lot of music ever since I can remember, so I was motivated to pick up a guitar early on. After two years of playing guitar, I gained an interest in loop pedals. After 5 or 6 years of making what was fundamentally rock music, I was introduced to computer programs (Reason, FL Studio, Cakewalk). I became very interested in recording music, and soon after that Smooth Tutors started.
I started playing more and more keys and synths in that project, eventually putting my guitar down most of the time, so that allowed me to open up and explore new territory as a musician. When I began studying in Germany, I started making solo music, eventually getting more and more hardware and moving away from computer programs. I’ve been moving forward ever since, focusing mainly on solo work these days.
CF: What are some of your musical and non-musical influences when it comes to creating your own?
I am always influenced by what I’m currently listening to. I realize that I tend to sponge up a little bit of everything that I hear around me, whether I like it or not; Film, TV, and video games included. As far as creating my own music, that task has become increasingly more challenging over the years. With a guitar, I was able to sit down and just play off what I was feeling, not having to focus on much of anything else.
Now that I have a decent amount of hardware, there are a lot of things to choose before I start creating (BPM, samples, kits, what instruments to use, am I making a track to play live or just a studio track), then after that comes the creative process, which can easily be hindered by this setup work. Admittedly, I did this to myself, but the process has become easier over time. I think these kinds of processes personalize my work and overall allow me to express myself more.
CF: What do you normally listen to at home? Can you share three of your favourite albums past or present?
I listen to a wide variety of music at home. I try to balance the amount of mixes and albums I listen to. I think the idea of a well-balanced album has been falling out and it’s something that I’ve always loved in music. As for favorite albums… That’s clearly a challenging question. Overall unbeatable for me is Piero Umiliani’s La Ragazza Fuori Strada. After that, it becomes difficult to choose. Looking at my favorites from when I was younger and seeing what still holds up today is probably a good way to view favorite albums. I really liked all of Prefuse 73’s stuff; Sleeping On Saturdays and Sundays in particular. Fugazi was also a favorite of mine that holds up. The Argument is a great album, but they have a lot of great albums. Choosing a favorite Hip Hop album is too hard. As for a new favorite album, I think Max Graef’s full length, Rivers of the Red Planet, is great.
CF: What’s your favorite thing about living in Pittsburgh?
There are a lot of things to choose from, but one thing that definitely keeps me here is my friends and family. The music scene is very tight knit, but it’s constantly growing. There are a lot of different venues and music in Pittsburgh, and despite that, running into the same people is a commonality. You’ll be surprised at the amount of quality that comes out of Pittsburgh.
CF: Are there any future releases or projects you could tell us about?
I’ve got a large collection of unreleased solo material, as well as from previous projects, plus I’m making a lot of new solo music, so there’s a lot of room for future releases.